Want to Limit Burn Rate for Your Startup? Read on!

Limiting Startup Burn Rate: 6 Effective Strategies

Picture this: You had an amazing business idea and took action, starting your own company. You managed to raise funds and even expanded your market. Everything seemed to be going well until a few months later when the investors and board members summoned you regarding the "burn rate" of your company.

The burn rate is an important measure for startups as it shows how quickly the company is using up its financial resources and how much time it has before running out of funds. A miscalculated burn rate can greatly hinder a business's growth and success, with 82% of small businesses failing due to cash flow issues. So what exactly is burn rate, and how do you calculate it? Let's dive in and explore.

What is the burn rate?

The burn rate is the money a startup spends from its reserves before becoming profitable. It is typically expressed as a monthly or yearly figure and indicates negative cash flow. Every company has two types of burn rates: gross and net. The gross burn rate includes all operating expenses, such as salaries and rent. The net burn rate considers total expenses minus any revenue generated. For early-stage startups, understanding the difference between these two can determine their success or failure.

Monthly Burn Rate = (Starting Cash – Ending Cash) / Number of months in operation

Common causes of a high burn rate

  • With the rise of new digital solutions, many startups may be tempted to splurge on the latest tools, platforms, and software. While some of these can boost productivity, startups need to distinguish between what is merely 'nice to have' and what is truly required for their operations. This way, they can make sure that their investments are in line with their immediate needs.
  • One thing to avoid when building a team is premature hiring. While it can be exciting to bring on a lot of employees quickly, be strategic and only hire for roles that directly contribute to product development, sales, or other revenue-generating activities. This will help prevent inflating costs without matching revenue growth.
  • Marketing is crucial for increasing brand visibility and acquiring new customers. However, not all marketing strategies guarantee a good return on investment. Startups that invest in expensive campaigns without monitoring their performance metrics may end up spending more money than they earn.
  • Investing in luxurious office spaces may seem like a good idea for boosting team morale and impressing clients. Still, it can often drain resources, especially for early-stage companies.
  • Spending can quickly get out of hand when no systematic strategy or budget is in place. Conduct cost-benefit assessments, rigorous budgeting, and financial evaluations regularly to control the burn rate.

Also read: Start filing form 1120

6 steps to reduce your burn rate

Assess business expenses

Startups should closely monitor their expenses. Regular financial audits can help identify areas of excessive spending or inefficiencies in the company's financial statements. Distinguish between essential and non-essential expenses to reduce the burn rate by finding more affordable software solutions or renegotiating vendor contracts for better deals. Always be on the lookout for cost-saving opportunities.

Optimize marketing strategies

Marketing doesn't have to be expensive to be effective. Implement organic growth strategies like SEO, content marketing, and social media to drive traffic and conversions without breaking the bank. But how do you know if they are actually working? Make use of analytics to evaluate the ROI of your marketing efforts so that you can tweak campaigns to deliver results. Don't be afraid to adjust or reconsider platforms and strategies if they aren't performing well.

Better hiring practices

Focus on hiring roles that directly contribute to the business's success. This can include positions in product development, sales, or customer service. Invest in employee training and development for a more efficient team, which can potentially reduce the need for additional hires. Also, consider hiring part-time, freelance, or remote workers instead of traditional full-time employees. This creates flexibility in cutting costs or increasing production as needed.

External funding 

Before seeking external investment for your business, carefully evaluate whether it is necessary and at the right stage in your growth. There are various funding options, such as angel investors, venture capitalists, or crowdfunding, each with its own expectations and terms. When communicating with potential investors, be transparent about your financial needs and projections to establish trust and alignment on the company's financial path forward.

Manage cash flows

Keep an eye on the interest expenses generated by loans or bonds to finance your business. Make sure these expenses are factored into your overall burn rate, as they directly impact your operations.

Use technology

Invest in financial management tools that provide real-time insights into your company's finances. This will help founders track expenses, monitor cash flow, and forecast future financial scenarios. Automate repetitive tasks using tools like Zapier or HubSpot to increase efficiency, reduce manual labour costs, and minimize errors. Utilize platforms like Google Analytics, Tableau, or Looker to better understand customer behaviour, sales trends, and operational inefficiencies. These valuable insights can inform refined strategies and optimize marketing campaigns to reduce burn rates.

Implement cloud services such as AWS, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure to reduce upfront costs while providing flexibility for future growth. Collaboration tools like Slack, Trello, and Asana can improve communication and project management for remote teams, ultimately boosting productivity.


Managing the burn rate involves more than just reducing expenses; it requires strategic resource allocation, innovation, and adaptability. Investors can gauge a company's financial health by looking at its cash flow.

If the company burns through its resources too quickly, there's a high risk of bankruptcy. If the company burns too slowly, it could indicate a lack of investment in innovation, potentially causing it to lag behind competitors.

With Inkle Books, a founder-focused automated accounting platform designed for modern startups, you can easily manage cash flow and find ways to cut down expenses during the critical startup stage. Keep track of your finances effortlessly and focus on growing your business with Inkle Books.

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